The awards, now in their third year, are organised by the NZ Transport Agency and Cycling Action Network (CAN) and celebrate the projects and people that are actively supporting and encouraging kiwis to get around by bike. The 20 finalists have been selected from 60 nominations nationwide.
Council’s Junior Road Safety Park in Victoria Esplanade is one of four finalists in the Built Excellence Award category, which covers infrastructure projects that have had a significant impact on encouraging more people to cycle and create a more bike-friendly future.
The Junior Road Safety Park opened in December 2017. It was designed to be a family friendly, fun environment for children to learn about basic road safety, while gaining the skills and confidence in a low risk setting.
Complete with miniature roads, intersections, working traffic lights, a roundabout, give-way and stop signs, the park is the result of a successful collaboration between Council, the community, and the Pascal Street Community Trust.
The vision for the park was initially brought to Council by two local mothers, Tash Collins and Allanah Radich. The Pascal Street Community Trust then helped raise over $250,000 for the project, with Palmerston North City Council providing the land and an additional $100,000 investment in the park. Higgins also came to the party, and provided around $100,000 of work in kind on the project.
Mayor Grant Smith says this award showcases the importance of Council working closely with the community and local business.
“We are starting to realise the social value that setting a goal like being one of the best places in New Zealand to ride a bike brings. The Junior Road Safety Park is one initiative that really encourages our young families to learn to cycle in a friendly environment.
“Of course, we must acknowledge the community support behind this project. It really is a joy to see so many using this new facility – from individuals and family groups to school classes,” he says.
On top of this award, Sport Manawatū has also been named as a finalist for its Bikes in Schools and Bicycle Skills Training programmes, funded by Council. These initiatives have seen more than 1,600 children riding more often.
Sport Manawatū spokesperson Harrison Dean says the programmes are an important part of growing confidence in our children.
“It's made riding a bike more accessible for our young people by encouraging them to have a go. These programmes have been designed to provide these children with confidence, which allows them to develop skills to get out on a bike cycling safer, and being more active in our region.”
In the ‘Outstanding Contribution to a Bike Friendly Future’ category, well-known bike advocate and former Palmerston North City Councillor Chris Teo-Sherrell is also nominated.
The winners will be announced at the 2WALKandCYCLE Conference awards dinner, held in Palmerston North on Tuesday 31 July.